German exporters have experienced an unexpectedly strong decline in demand for their goods. The drop in goods delivered abroad canceled out any gains achieved in the first month of the year.
German exports decreased by 1.5 percent in February, the National Statistics Office (Destatis) announced Tuesday, casting doubts on the sustainability of a fledgling economic recovery at the beginning of the new year.
The decline more than wiped out a 1.3-percent gain in the previous month. In February, Germany exported goods and services worth 90.4 billion euros ($117.5 billion), if adjusted for calendar and seasonal effects. In a year-on-year-comparison, exports were down 2.8 percent.
The February drop, which had not been penciled in by most analysts, was first and foremost a reflection of slumping demand in the crisis-stricken eurozone. German exports to the other 16 member countries of the single-currency bloc dropped by 4.1 percent month-on-month.
"The situation of German exporters remains tense," Berenberg Bank Chief Economist Christian Schulz told Reuters news agency. "Demand for German products is likely to remain low for some time to come."
After shrinking by 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2012, Germany's economy is widely believed to have grown moderately in the first three months of the current year, with precise figures yet to be announced. Expectations were reinforced by a report earlier this week on a rebound in industrial orders in the country.
"The latest decrease in exports certainly isn't gratifying," says Unicredit analyst Alexander Koch. "But that's no big thing as the global economy is picking up again, nurturing hopes about a rise in German exports in the near future."
hg/kms (dpa, Reuters, AP)